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What to expect in your first job as a CRNA

Colby LaFleur, MSNA, CRNA

Officially starting your career as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) is an exciting time that marks the commencement of a fulfilling, yet challenging journey.

As you embark on your first CRNA position, understanding the landscape and preparing accordingly can be pivotal in ensuring a successful transition from being a very successful SRNA to CRNA.  

Here are 8 things first-time CRNAs need to hone in on: 

1. Mastering Clinical Competence: Your primary focus is ensuring patient safety and comfort during procedures.  Be a life-long learner. Read one journal per week to stay current with the latest advancements in our field.  Seek out opportunities that build and keep your skillsets. Pro-tip: Become active in both your state and national associations to connect and grow with fellow CRNAs at various career stages. 

2. Building Bridges with Collaboration: Your success hinges on strong relationships with everyone you encounter in the hospital, but especially in the perioperative department. Everyone has a role to play that contributes to a great patient outcome and experience. There’s very little friction when pulling in the same direction. Make bonding with the anesthesia and surgical teams a top priority from day one. Another pro tip: Making friends with everyone, including the cafeteria and environmental services teams, will pay huge dividends! 

3. Flexibility is Key: Undoubtedly, your ICU and CRNA program experiences have prepared you well and will contribute to your future career successes. Medicine is an art that is constantly evolving. Be ready for curveballs. Sometimes there is more than one right answer. Your clinical years to now have been about learning several different ways to do things and still achieve a great outcome. Flexibility is a result of learning new things and adding more tools to your toolkit.   

4. Advocate for Your Patients: Be an advocate for patient safety. This starts first with listening and then by making informed decisions. Your patients are someone’s mom,dad, brother, sister or loved one. Going above and beyond for your patients makes all the difference.  

5. Keep Learning, Always: Again, beyond your continuing education requirements and reading one journal per week, there’s no better teacher than experience. Learn something new every day. Any medical journal whether it’s Anesthesia, BJA, Kaiser Health News, NEJM, Nature, the AANA, or various podcasts are all potentially great sources of information. Pick one that works for you and try it out for a month or two! 

6. Nurture Your Resilience: Prioritize self-care and seek support from colleagues to maintain well-being. Take advantage of employer well-being perks or professional mental health support. Without taking care of YOU, it’s impossible to care for others. 

7. Find Mentors Quickly: In your first couple of months, identify prospective mentors whom you can seek guidance, counsel and to learn the ins and outs of the organization. Seek out positive relationships that nurture your career development. The best mentors invest in you personally, professionally and know that you might be taking care of them some day! 

8. Toast to Triumphs: Mark each milestone. It’s a testament to your dedication and commitment to the anesthesia profession. You’ve spent eight years preparing for this!  It’s time to celebrate not only the big, but the small wins too.  It’s easy to point out the good things, but you must notice them first! 

Embrace these insights as you embark on your long-awaited, well-earned, CRNA debut. Hopefully these tips help you pave your way to a continuingly rewarding career in anesthesia care.    

And if you’re interested in exploring careers with Essential Anesthesia Management, check out our open positions

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